Imagine entering a new country and expecting to be fluent in the language. You think “I want to go to France,” so you book a trip and step off the plane thinking that the research and planning you’ve done for your trip will fully equip you to speak to the people you meet in French. When you try to speak French, for some reason, no one understands you. Worse yet, you have no idea what anyone is saying to you. This could cause some problems on your vacation…
This example is unlikely to occur in real life. Who of us would assume that because we would be in France we could suddenly speak French? And yet, how many of us step into new roles at work or at home; or start new classes, hobbies, or jobs; and expect to know exactly what we’re doing right away? This is the importance of a growth mindset vs. a fixed mindset.
When we do something new and expect to be good at it immediately (or within a short time), we are exercising a fixed mindset. The fixed mindset says, “If I don’t know how to do something now, I will never know how to do it.” When we remain in a fixed mindset, we are often frustrated by challenges. We are devastated by failure. We often give up on things too quickly. We limit ourselves.
The growth mindset, on the other hand, welcomes challenge and failure. The growth mindset says ,“I embrace every challenge and setback because it is helping me learn something new.” This way of thinking gives us freedom to develop, improve, and enjoy so much more of what the world has to offer. It allows us to fail, to be messy, and to persevere.
When you find yourself faced with challenges, ask yourself which mindset you want to engage. Sometimes a simple shift of thinking can be the difference between a dead end and a world of possibility.
Audrey Aukeman | MA, LPC